Akaroa
Travel

Friendly Friday Challenge- Meet Jan and John

“We have more in common than we often realise.”

New zealand
Christchurch – 2 weeks before the first earthquake, Cathedral square

Just two weeks before the first dreadfully unexpected earthquake hit Christchurch, New Zealand, way back in 2010, a Kiwi friend had hooked me up to meet Jan and John – two residents of this fair city, who asked us if we wanted to see Akaroa? Even though I plan my sightseeing well ahead on my holidays, this unexpected invitation meant I enthusiastically agreed without knowing what Akaroa might entail.

Where were John, (and Jan), taking us?

Akaroa is a settlement about one hour’s drive south from Christchurch, on New Zealand’s South Island, on the stunning Banks peninsula. As we discovered, it was decidedly French in origin, a new experience for us who have never been within coo-ee of anything French.

New Zealand
on the road to Akaroa

To get to Akaroa, one passes through the Lyttleton tunnel and harbour, on the South Island, taking if you can the scenic route via Cass and Governor’s bay, (where glorious views are matched with stunning houses perched on precipitous slopes). We were heading all the way around the peninsula to the other side of these mountains.

Akaroa

Several photo stops were necessary along the way! Each one surpassing the last for quality of nature and pure aesthetic beauty. By car, the drive took us a little over an hour, traversing the windy hairpin bends and curves to Akaroa, but that time is not felt heavily due to the natural beauty, along the way.

Akaroa

And then finally we reach Akaroa.

Settled initially by the French, in the 1800’s, the soil in the Akaroa area proved to be extremely fertile, which led to waves of British immigration. The original settlers peacefully negotiated and purchased land from the Maori chiefs; the co-operation between all colonists and Maoris, a novelty in the colonial world.

Today, apart from a few French street names, there remains little to show Akaroa’s origin as a flourishing French settlement. It is a county town within the Canterbury Provincial District and has a population of 630. {2010}

www.teara.govt.nz/en/1966/akaroa-french-settlement-at/1
Akaroa architecture
Akaroa Library

Even so, my unofficial guide John pointed out that you can see, and smell, the French influence in the menus at the multitude of restaurants and coffee shops, while Jan was eager to show me the architectural influences in the shutters and gables.

Akaroa shop
French style of architecture in Akaroa
french influence in Akaroa New Zealand
Gabled cottage architecture from early settlement era in Akaroa New Zealand

They both commented how today, this was a wealthy town, with small cottages often selling for 6 figure sums. It seemed that “settling” in Akaroa would remain a pipe dream for all of us. I would have to be content to visit or perhaps an overnight stay.

New Zealand Akaroa

Jan and John insisted we stop at the seafood cafe overlooking the harbour, feasting on fresh Akaroa cod and chips. Delicious.

The tide was out when we arrived, but that certainly did not detract from the gob-smacking good views, and the sunshine and delightfully cool winter air.

Akaroa bay New Zealand

One could see all the colours and contours in the mountains, and peace and tranquillity and the good life exuded from every compass point.

The consumers of our world are not forgotten in this antipodean outpost of the French empire. Quirky tins, souvenirs, the ubiquitous woollen skeins, fabulous fudge, swanky clothes, toys and books and homewares were on offer for a tidy sum at the tourist shops.

Hot tip: Try the fudge!If you are in Akaroa. You won’t regret it.

New Zealand Akaroa

Yes, I succumbed to that temptation. In addition, I discovered some elegant but ‘different’ salad servers at the Fudge shop and decided this was to be my Akaroa souvenir. For handcrafted items, they were in fact, very reasonably priced. And I was sorely tempted by a pretty apron, being as I am, prone to buying aprons on holidays, but I managed to resist that little treasure.

Even the Ice cream had a French twist! It was called orgasmic! A good marketing tool, perhaps?

I really felt fortunate for the kind generosity shown. Thanks to Jan and John for a wonderful introduction to the delights of the Banks peninsula and for waiting for an hour at the train station, when the slightly confused railway official gave you the wrong arrival time for my Tranz scenic train.

New Zealand Akaroa

I doubt that I would have waited so long for two strangers from Australia.

Do you have a story of meeting someone from your travels? Join in the Friendly Friday Blogging Meet Challenge that Sarah is currently hosting. Let me know here as I’d love to visit your blog!

Friendly Friday

38 thoughts on “Friendly Friday Challenge- Meet Jan and John”

  1. Thank you for reviving this memory for the FFC this week 🙂 Jan and John sound like excellent hosts, the sort of people we all love to meet when we travel! Akaroa sounds like a great little town to visit, and I loved the coastal views 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Meeting some friendly strangers when on holiday really adds to the travel experience. Especially good is tapping into their first hand experience of the areas.

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  2. Friendly Friday Challenge- Meet Jan and John On Saturday, October 9, 2021, Something to Ponder About wrote:

    > Forestwood posted: ” “We have more in common than we often realise.” > Christchurch – 2 weeks before the first earthquake, Cathedral square Just > two weeks before the first dreadfully unexpected earthquake hit > Christchurch, New Zealand, way back in 2010, a Kiwi friend ha” >

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I guess the sky is blue due to the air in New Zealand being very clean and fresh. There isn’t a lot of heavy industries and it is surrounded by sea. It is said the cleanest air in the world is over the southern ocean – the waters between Antarctica and Australia and New Zealand. The roaring forties blow their way through there too, clearing out the cobwebs.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for sharing this very warm travel memory. It is amazing how strangers find their way to each other and share in creating such convivial experiences. It’s not just John & Jan’s generosity with their time & expertise, but your openness to this change in your itinerary that allowed this day to happen. And years later, for us to enjoy it vicariously through you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This experience has had many positive ripple effects Ju-Lyn! I am indebted to them. I usually don’t have to worry about meeting up with strangers as they have always been so friendly and kind. I tend to follow my gut instinct when deciding if people are trustworthy or not.

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